Veterans boat team observe Memorial Day with luminaires on Connecticut River

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – For these veterans on Memorial Day, light is a symbol of remembrance,
and a symbol of hope.

“There are so many veterans who suffer in darkness,” said Laddy Rua, a veteran of the U.S. Navy. “And us being able to share the luminaires really does help them know that there is somebody watching out for them and even though they can’t see the light we can see the light for them.”

Veterans Dragon Boat USA is a boat team made up of US military servicemen and women in Holyoke.

For Memorial Day, the boat team gathered at Holyoke Rows for their annual tradition of releasing luminaries into the Connecticut River. Each light to honor the veterans who served our country.

“For me, it represents the spirit of freedom,” said Walter Mozgala, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. “And the spirit of remembering those who have given their lives and service.”

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, veterans consist of nearly 14 percent of deaths by suicide in US adults. This year on Memorial Day, members of this veteran boat team hope that the lighting event will bring awareness to this statistic.

“There are injuries that you can see, and there are injuries that you can’t see,” said Richard Purcell, a Desert Storm Veteran. “Those injuries are why we are here tonight, and that people have taken their lives. You may not even know about it but if you see them, please help them.”

RESOURCES FOR VETERANS

The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes

US Department of Veterans Affairs

Veteran suicide prevention

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